Keyword Planning Basics
Keyword Planning, Keyword Research, Keyword Targeting or Keyword Strategy.
They all mean the same thing and are terms you will hear whenever SEO or digital marketing is mentioned, it seems seem very important but what does it mean?
Keyword Planning Is:
‘A practice used to find and research actual search terms people enter into the search engines when conducting a search.’
That seems clear enough as you need to know what people are going to type into the search engine when they are looking for whatever you are offering on your website.
These search terms are called Keywords, they can be a single word such as "coffee" or a more specific phrase such as "Coffee shops in Slough"
Once you find them you need to put those keywords in your content so when the search engine web crawlers trawl through your website they find and index them, then when someone types in a search query matching your keywords up pops your website in the SERPS (Search Engine Result Pages).
That seems simple enough and is exactly what everyone else is (or should be) doing!
If your selling football boots and expect to be found when someone types in "Football Boots". That search yields over 11 million results and there are only 10 results shown on Googles first page, try it and see.
Because 75% of people never scroll pass page 1 of Google if the search for football boots lists up your website on page 7, it is unlikely that it will be seen.
So how do you get your website to appear on page 1 of Google when hundreds of people are offering the same service as you and producing similar content about their product or service and the industry they represent? Glistyred
Keyword Planning is about finding those search terms that people use when looking for your product or service, which not many others are also using, they will give you the best opportunity of appearing on page one of SERPS.
It's not just about getting visitors to your Website, it's getting the right kind of visitors, the ones who want to buy your stuff.
So how do you find the right Keywords for your page?
Keyword Planning Using Non Organic SEO
You can use non-organic methods (paid for advertising). SEO agencies who run paid advertising campaigns will select appropriate keywords for you and optimise your website so the right keywords appear at the right rate in the right places.
Pay Per Click (PPC)
You bid for relevent keywords against competitors, the higher the bid the more chance of winning and having your advert placed on page 1.
Each time someone clicks on one of your ads Google charges the bid amount (hence Pay Per Click). For normal keywords the cost is usually between £0.60 to about £1.30. But for in demand prized keywords they can cost over £100 per click.
To see how PPC works take a look at Google AdWords. You can use Googles tools to research keywords and manage your own PPC campaign. Full instructions are on the AdWords website
PPC is not a dead cert however as Google will use other factors to give the advert a quality score which determines how relevent it is to the search term.
If the advert says buy your i-phone here and it links to the landing page for a phone shop It wont be good enough, because Google wants to see the ad linking to the product page of what is advertised. They also look at the amount of times your advert is clicked on, the CTR (Click Through Rate).
An advert with a better quality rate can appear above yours even if you pay a higher bid price.
Real Time Bidding (RTB)
To guarantee getting the number one spot on page number one in the SERPS you can actually buy the spot in an auction, every time someone enters a keyword or phrase you have registered an interest in it is offered up for auction. The business willing to pay the most for that type of enquiry gets their ad in position.
This works by the interested businesses determining the parameters of the search (where's if from, how many times has the person searched for that item, what time is it etc....).
What they are looking at in how likely the searcher is to buy if they land on their website. If the parameters match, the bid goes in and Google take the highest bid for that keyword at that time and place the advert.
This all takes place automatically and is carried out in the few milliseconds between the search query is typed in and the results appearing.
Campaigns like this cost money.
- If you're running a PPC campaign a tight rein is needed or spending can quickly spiral out of control.
- If you are running an RTB campaign it's best to use a reputable agency with experience in this field as wrongly handled it can be hideously expensive without yielding any discernible results.
A paid search campaign can give your business a quick short-term boost, helping you gain exposure to visitors searching for the relevant keywords in your campaign and increasing traffic. The more visitors & the more time they spend on your site is one of Googles ranking factors).
The downside is that many people do not trust paid ads and won't click on them. I don't unless it's for a specific article I already want from the retailer who has placed the ad, even then I am still going to search to see if I can find it cheaper elsewhere.
As advisors to small businesses, start-ups and tradespeople we advise only using paid for advertising if you a have carefully considered the implications of the campaign and have a set budget put aside for it.
Keyword Planning Using Organic SEO
This involves searching for relevant keywords then placing them in your.
- Page Title:
- Text: The content of your page
- Headings & Subheadings: The H1 & H2 headings, these are the article title and subtitles for the paragraphs.
- Image Alt Tags: The text you write in the Alt Tag bar in the image is the description that appears when the image doesn't load. Google only read up to 16 words so this should be your max and only include your keyword once.
- Meta Description: The 160 character snippet used to summarize a web page's content. Search engines use these snippets in search results to let visitors know what a page is about before they click on it.
- Metatags: Snippets of information included in the code and are only visible to search engines, they tell them what is on your page.
For WordPress users use the free Yoast SEO Plug-in which monitors your keyword usage, where you put them and how often and the readability of your text. It make the whole process very simple.
There are also are free Meta Tag Plug-ins that will put the data in the meta tags for you so you don't have to mess around with coding.
To find relevant keywords there are several free tools available, probably the most popular of these is the Google AdWords planning tool, you need to register with Google Adwords (which is free to do), go to section 2 enter a keyword it will appear in the box with a green bar beside it and the number of average searches for that keyword Google predict for the month.
If you hover over your keyword a 'more like this' box appears, click on it and you get alternative suggestions. You can also try different combinations of words to see what the predicted search figures will be.
There are several other free keyword planning tools available, some are pro' tools with free trails, some just come ons for you to buy into what are useless products.
The best free Keyword planning tools at present are:
- Moz Keyword Explorer you get 20 free queries a month
- Google Trends Enter your chosen keywords to spot trends
- Google Analytics Amongst other powerful tools for analysing your metrics, see which keywords people are using to link to your website
All of these have user guides and there are 'how to' videos on you Tube showing how to get the best from them.
Tools which allow you to drill down keyword data and tell the number of hits competitors get from each one etc... are very useful but expensive. They are necessary if you are spending money on a paid campaign as you need as much information as possible on the likelihood of keywords connecting to your website, but not so necessary with organic SEO where you can monitor your chosen keywords success rate with Google Analytics and change the underperformers as you go.
If you are planning a paid for campaign and really need one of these powerful research tools than we recommend the MOZ PRO package, there is a 30 day free trail to see if it suits you, it costs approx £90 per month (if paid yearly).
Long Tailed Keywords, The Key to success
Competing for page 1 SERPS listings for common Keywords (like 'football boots') is a non starter for the small business or DIY SEO.
You are competing with in-house SEO / marketing departments or million pound SEO budgets of major corporations. It's a rare thing to beat teams of dedicated SEO professionals who do this as a full-time job.
The way to get page one SERPS listings for your Web pages is by carefull usage of long-tailed keywords, phrases of 3 or more words that people will type in when looking for your product or service.
People tend to use these when they are closer to making a purchase as they now have an idea about what they want.
Long tailed keywords make up 70% of all search enquiries
A person looking for a pair of football boots may simply type in 'football boots', but unless they are just doing a general trawl to see what is available they will be more specific. If they have a budget then 'cheap football boots' or 'football boots under £50' is more likely.
If they know exactly what type of football boots they want (lets say boots for 5 a side on artificial turf) they are more likely to type in '3G boots under £50' and are ready to buy when they land on your website as they are targeting a specific product, your product!
As you type these keywords into the AdWords Keyword Planning tool you note that the predicted search queries get less and less, with the search for '3G boots under £50'. at zero. This isn't because no one is making that search, the search number is a prediction and specific long-tailed search terms such as these are impossible to predict.
If you are selling cheap 3G boots it's because you know there is a demand which is why you've chosen this niche market, and you know that many amateur footballers are specifically looking for these types of boots at this price so your keyword will yield results for you.
If Google predict zero searches, the big Boot sellers (using large SEO agencies) may not include '3G boots under £50' as a keyword as there is no return predicted.
So use it, the chances of someone who is looking for your specific product finding you on page 1 is far greater than if you use 'football boots' or 'cheap football boots' as your main keyword.
Think, What are people typing in if they are looking for your product, what would you type in?
The more generic the term, the more likely the person is just browsing, the more specific the search term the more likely they are to be buying. You want traffic but it has to be the right type, it's better to have 10 serious buyers visiting then 50 casual browsers.
Use common sense and knowledge of your own market alongside the research tools to pick your keywords, then place your main keyword in the page title, meta description (Snippet), H1 x 3 H2 headings. (See our article on What are Meta tags)
Include another relevant long-tailed keyword in your meta description and include it in your text. No reason not to drop another in the text as well, as long as your keywords appear naturally as part of the text.
Do not overuse keywords, it's called keyword stuffing and websites which do it are penalized and if you just join keywords together with garbled text the search engine crawlers will spot that too!
Recently with services such as Microsoft's Cortana and Amazons Alexa voice activated searches are becoming popular, voice search terms are different from written ones and you need to keep content up to date to meet the demands of those using voice search. The long-tailed keyword 'I want some cheap 3G boots' may be a valid keyword for voice searches.
To help with keyword placing have a look at our Basic SEO section
Keyword Planning is Not a 'Magic Solution'
Adapting your page for a new keyword doesn’t mean that you are automatically going to draw more traffic, your competitors will be targeting the keywords that work best, so you might drop in the Google rankings as other sites rank above you for the some keywords.
Search engines are fickle and instead of ranking your website for a chosen keyword they can rank a page for a totally irrelevant term. You have more chance of being ranked correctly for a long-tailed keyword and more chance of converting the visitor using it into a customer as they are making a specific search for something.
Advanced SEO is complex and it takes more than just the right keywords to constantly get on the first page of Google see our DIY SEO Tips.
Keyword planning Summery:
- Choose relevent long tailed keywords to draw real customers in.
- Listen to your customers, ask them what searches they used to search for your product / service and adapt keywords to suit.
- Keep monitoring your performance with Google Analytics to fine tune your keyword strategy.
- Be patent, rankings will grow organically and you will get those page one listings for some of your keywords.